Bennie's head. This plan was for him to capture enough crickets and grasshoppers to have a chorus in the house to sing to him in the nighttime. Is there anything nicer than to listen to crickets in the nighttime?
In the nighttime, safe from the cats and dog, they could sleep in the little secret room up in the eaves. This room had little swinging doors to it, and Uncle Bennie could easily push these open. Then he could get inside and sleep with his crickets. But Mama forbade him to climb up there. He might break a leg, she said. Rachel would have to climb up and put his crickets in there every night. And he would have to listen, like the others, from below.
In the daytime he could carry a cricket around with him in his pocket. It might sing as he walked along the path. People might say, "Where's that cricket?" When he wanted a certain particular cricket to take for a walk, Rachel would get it for him. "The one in the red box," he'd say. Or, "The blue one."
Rachel was not fond of crickets and grasshoppers in the sunny fields. The way they would hop at her and get in her hair! But she probably would not object to just one grasshopper at a time in a box, or one cricket, for she was very fond of Uncle Bennie and minded him like a true uncle. Sometimes she pretended that he was an old uncle instead of a little one and would hand him a cane to hobble with.
So after luncheon Uncle Bennie sauntered out of the cottage and went around to the side where the long grass grew. He sat down to await a cricket or some live bug. My! What luck so soon! There was a sandy-colored grasshopper sitting as still as though it were a part of the reed it was on. The grasshoppers here were not as green as those in Cranbury. That was natural, since the grass here was not as green either.
"Come, grasshopper," Uncle Bennie begged, moving an inch. But it is one thing to see a grasshopper and another to catch it. And this one hopped so fast that Bennie had no idea where it had hopped to. Just one big hop and it was gone. That was all.
Uncle Bennie lay down on his stomach and peered through the faded grass, hoping for a return of the grasshopper. That grasshopper didn't come back but a neat little cricket came along. It looked at Uncle Bennie sideways, out of one eye. Uncle Bennie eyed it back. He cupped his hands and waited patiently. He lay very still hoping the cricket would jump into his hands. The cricket didn't jump into them but a ladybug did. Something was the matter with one of her wings. It was out of order, so she couldn't fly very well. Well, she could be bait for the cricket. Uncle Bennie had not asked for any bait, but bait had come to him.
From the windowsill, inside the house, Pinky had observed Uncle Bennie with great interest as he tried to catch the sandy-colored grasshopper. She had seen its farewell leap, and she knew how disappointed Uncle Bennie must be. Seeing that the noisy fellow, as she had named Uncle Bennie, was after more prey, she decided to enter the game. She had not had one single cricket or grasshopper to eat since she had entered this house of refinement, just milk, oatmeal, and food that was terribly tasteless after the baby crabs and minnows she was used to. She thought to herself,
It's no wonder the noisy fellow gets tired of never having a cricket or a grasshopper to eat. I do too.
Pinky was quite adjusted to life in this house now, and, aside from the tasteless fare, she liked it. However, she was not used to being waited on hand and foot, and when she made a decision, as now, to go out, she was not going to ask someone to let her out. She had often observed how the food giver, as she had named Mama, unfastened the hook on the screen to shoo out flies and then fastened it again. Pinky knew she could get out that way, and who cared about getting in? Not she.
So now she worked and worked on the little hook until at last she unlatched it and could push the screen open. The screen swung up, and with it resting